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Rihanna’s tweet supporting Farmers’ Protest in India opens up Online Debate

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Last year, celebrities went out of their way to use their platform as a means for societal betterment. This year, they’ve continued the tradition. One single tweet by Rihanna stirred an online debate on Twitter last week that shook the world’s largest democracy! And it was on the ongoing farmers’ protest in India.

Rihanna brings attention to the farmers’ protests in India

Rihanna's tweet supporting Farmers Protest in India opens up Online Debate
Wikimedia Commons

It all started when Rihanna tweeted “why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest” and shared an article by CNN.

With her reach going beyond 100 million followers on Twitter, it did not take long for her tweet to explode. Hours later, Rihanna’s tweet was followed by Greta Thunberg, as well as US vice president’s niece Meena Harris. Their tweets went viral almost instantaneously and sparked a huge debate on the social media website.

Farmers have been protesting throughout India and have surrounded New Delhi, the capital city of India for weeks. After Rihanna shared the article, the Indian External Affairs Ministry issued an official statement, saying:

The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector… The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.

Rihanna’s reaction came after news erupted that a tractor rally in India ended up in violence, killing one protestor and injuring 500. Furthermore, protestors stormed Delhi’s historic Red Fort as well and occupied it until the police took back control. Despite condemning the violence, the Indian farmers are not calling off the protest.

As a result, celebrities like Rihanna brought it to light and her 101 million followers brought her name to the top Twitter trend in India. After that, Thunberg and Harris also tweeted through their accounts, with Harris saying:

We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters

Their tweets get global outpour of support

After Rihanna, Thunberg, and Harris’s tweets went viral, they received a lot of support online. That includes Lily Singh, Richa Chadha, and British MP Claudia Webb:

However, despite the support, Rihanna also received a lot of criticism, particularly from those who support the sitting government of India who passed these controversial laws. One of them was Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, a very vocal supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), quoted Rihanna’s tweet with:

No one is talking about it because they are not farmers, they are terrorists who are trying to divide India.

The farmers’ protest in India is now in its third month and is the biggest challenge that Prime Minister Modi has faced since he came to power. He has offered to suspend the enactment of the laws, but the farmers are adamant that they want them repealed. Furthermore, the Indian authorities are not tolerating a lot of criticism of the laws. The government is repeatedly sending requests to Twitter to block accounts that are speaking in favor of the protests. However, Twitter ended up restoring those blocked accounts. Rihanna only managed to bring this huge crisis the international recognition that it deserves.

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